Google bans abortion referendum ads in Ireland

On Wednesday morning, Google announced the ban on all referendum-related advertisements on its platform, including ads on YouTube and Google Adwords.

Concerns had been raised about the unregulated nature of online advertising and how people can be targeted in the context of the upcoming vote.

The ban will go into effect in the next 24 hours and will last until the campaign is over.

"We're suddenly being told that we will no longer be allowed to speak to voters on our channels, and we think that is outrageous", McGuirk said.

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In a joint statement, three Irish pro-life groups - The Pro Life Campaign, Save the 8th and the Iona Institute - condemned Google's move.

They continued: 'What we are now doing for the referendum on the eighth amendment will allow us to operate as though these tools, which are not yet fully available, were in place today with respect to foreign referendum-related advertising'.

Meanwhile, Facebook said Tuesday it will block foreign adverts aimed at the Irish referendum, "as part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence".

The decision comes after increasing concersn that online platforms like Google and Facebook can secretly be used to influence the results of elections and referendums. Avi Kelin, an associate at Genova Burns, also said that Facebook and other social media platforms have no legal obligation to remove or ban foreign political ads that don't explicitly endorse one side. It is about concerns that that the No side might win.

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The group claims that it will now be put at a disadvantage because it had particularly relied on posters and social media to put out its message. In both cases, groups or individuals can pay to have their adverts appear in this way.

Ireland bars political donations from overseas, but the law does not apply to social media advertising.

However this US -first focus leaves other regions vulnerable to election fiddlers - hence Google deciding to suspend ad buys around the Irish vote, albeit tardily.

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  • Ryan Wade